Saturday, 16 October 2010

Book #65

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memories.

This book terrifies me, and always has done.

Orwell gives light to a totalitarian regime in a dystopian world that makes the likes of Hitler and Stalin look like pussies. Everything is controlled by the government - working, eating, talking - and even the most minor unorthodox thought can be detected through a variety of different technologies or groups.

What scared me most about this novel is the idea that the past does not exist. All evidence we have of the past exists in only written records and memories. What if these are false? What if both of these can be controlled?

Although 1984 has now been and gone (I wasn't even a figment of imagination at this time), it is hard to believe that this novel was first published in 1949 as a projection of the future. Although there are clear nods to Stalinist Russia, anyone reading the book now could quite easily find stark parallels to life as we know it today, and I believe even ten, or twenty years on, this may still be the case. It's essentially about propaganda, how this affects society, and how powerful it can be when put to use by government.

The ending was quite surreal, although I feel this was intended due to our protagonist's experiences.

It's absolutely timeless, and will no doubt remain a classic for an incredibly long time. It's so influential, not to mention important, and I feel as technology rapidly progresses it's a novel that will become more real year after year.

I'd encourage people to read this, or even to re-read it. I read it when I was in school and after reading it again I've gained a much different perspective than I did years ago. It's quite the cultural point of reference, and along with Animal Farm, is a good place to begin your Orwellian experience.

65 / 66 books. 98% done!


Emily Ward said...

This book is one of my favorites. It terrifies me, too! I need to buy my own copy, though, and reread it.

I found your blog about a week ago and I've had fun reading it - I can't believe you've great 65 books this year! How do you find the time to read AND review each one?

JK said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog, that means a lot :)

I only just started my full-time job in the beginning of September, so I had lots and lots of time to read before then. I've definitely slowed down now, but I still read as much as I can!